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Semi Trailer Home

 
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This looks like a great place to ask.  My wife watches those tiny home shows and I see many of them in passing.  Years ago I bought a moving semi trailer and while stripping it of tooling shelves it occurred to me this would be perfect for parking on some land and not being taxed for its value.  

It has been on my mind that I could make mine into a home and possibly putting it on some land and renting it for hunters and fishers.  Then seeing all these expensive 16' trailers made into tiny homes got me wondering if I could build them for others and make some money without working at some heavy stress job.  Some thing is not adding up and I need some help.  Is there something wrong with semi trailers that I don't get? What got me was a stay at the Oshkosh Air Show and noticed a semi mobile home there.  Sure that was elaborate,  but I can make one very practical.  Custom built seems full of problems and guessing is uncertain.  There must be a compromise AC/DC, Compost/Grey Water, number of bedding, heating/cooling options, ect.  Any ideas?  My gut feeling is not to ask and just do it and they will come.  I suppose financing is out so what is the glass ceiling for approx.. 45' X 8' X 9' ceiling in cash?

Seems like each would benefit from the shows I've seen.  I am very perplexed that one could spend such money on just a 16' trailer.  I built a nice 1440 sq.' home and a 1680 sq.' machine shop from a empty lot for less than the tiny homes I've seen.  I almost bought a Volvo Semi Tractor with full sleeper for my trailer that  ran perfect up too 55mph and would stop because of a computer problem for $3,000!  Does anyone happen to know if I can get around a full blown CDL for driving my own trailer?

This seems to be my best option, that is to build one for myself and then try to sell it to see what will happen.  I'm just kicking around the idea as I am an electromechanical troubleshooter / inventor by trade and tired of working for government  bureaucracies as a civilian.  Maybe redundancy is possible as in AC & DC. North Central USA
 
pollinator
Posts: 742
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Hi Bud,  I think it could be viable, but a semi trailer is harder/more expensive to move around than a trailer.  If you're considering something like this, I'd suggest you look into creating container homes.  They're 13 feet shorter and don't have wheels, but my guess is that they're a more solid platform for building.  Around here they're about $3500 CAD, so $2600 USD? and there are many companies who are starting to mod them.
 
pollinator
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I think the cost of Tiny Houses has a really big, but common misconception on price. That is, they are indeed small, but they are also a home. That means while a kitchen might not be 24 x 24 like in a real house, it is still a kitchen, and so the cost is in having a sink, and all the other trappings. If components used include RV sized stuff, that has a huge cost as well since a water heater for a RV is going to be 3 times more than a normal sized house since it is a specialty item and not many are sold.

Another misconception is time. Anything ginormous, or small in size takes a lot more time to build, and with Tiny Houses there is a lot of detail work, just as with a real house. That is why in the end a Tiny House costs so much. Again, though small, it still is a complete home....kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms. And to work well, they must be well designed and accurately built.

None of that means your idea does not have merit, or building Tiny Houses could not be profitable. I think there is a lot of hidden costs in building Tiny Houses and the profit margin may not be as good as it initially appears.

As for using a Tractor Trailer Truck Trailer...that is wrought with problems from the get-go. The biggest issue is they must be moved via truck, and that requires a truck driver with a CDL license. Unlike a 16 foot trailer that falls outside commercial licensing, a trailer truck tiny house would have to conform to Dept of Transportation rules. With truck driver violations costing around $1600 per fine, a truck driver would be very wary of hooking his truck to a Tiny House and hauling it down the road. Such a load screams attention, and truck drivers want anything but that.

But if I sound like I hate your idea, that is not the case at all. I have a trailer truck trailer myself, and have thought of turning it into a Mother-In-Law Tiny House myself. In my case, I would only move it once, so it is no big deal to move, just an excavator trip of about 500 feet.
 
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Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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Bud,
Your idea makes sense.  The semi trailer house would be easier to move than a container house if you kept the lights and brakes up.  That really shouldn't entail much because there are a lot of hopper bottom grain trailers in farm country that just run once a year for a few weeks and they are normally ready to just back under and go to work.  I'm guessing you'd probably just have the one move to it's location after you finished it.  If life uprooted you or you sold it it'd still be easier to move than a regular mobile home or a container home.
I've seen some of those moving trailers go through and thought with that drop center they'd make great storage or work shops that could be moved if your job did.
If you decide to do this post some pictures.  You could start a new trend.
 
pollinator
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There is a guy near me building tiny homes. I think his last ad said he was on #9.

He is building them on old travel trailer frames. He doesn't weigh them..

Built like a standard house with a few tweaks. He assured me that 'most people only move them once', when I asked about structural integrity.

I have heard that, in my province, building a tiny house to mobile home standards with approvals is about 50,000 more than the same tiny house without them. And, a high-end, robustly built tiny house on an proper engineered trailer, without the official stamps, is around 50k more than this guy was selling the last one for. For the price, the asthetics were quite nice.

I would check the craigslist ad for details..but it's already gone. They seem to move pretty fast..

So.. what is your risk tolerance?



As far as the semi trailer as a platform... The biggest hurdle with these things is finding somewhere to put the dang thing, where you don't get booted out by The Man, because The Neighbour is a NIMBY type.

Being way bigger, and correspondingly less cute, will not help that aspect at all.

Also, a lot of tiny homes pick up substantial usable space via extra height thanks to low trailers. That's not happening on a semi trailer within the highway height limit unless you stick with lowbeds..
 
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